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David B. was born Pierre-Francois Beauchard in a small town near Orleans, France. He spent an idyllic early childhood playing with the neighborhood kids and, along with his older brother, Jean-Christophe, ganging up on his little sister, Florence. But their lives changed abruptly when Jean-Christophe was struck with epilepsy at age eleven. In search of a cure, their parents dragged the family to acupuncturists and magnetic therapists, to mediums and macrobiotic communes. But every new cure ended in disappointment as Jean-Christophe, after brief periods of remission, would only get worse.
Angry at his brother for abandoning him and at all the quacks who offered them false hope, Pierre-Francois learned to cope by drawing fantastically elaborate battle scenes, creating images that provide a fascinating window into his interior life. An honest and horrifying portrait of the disease and of the pain and fear it sowed in the family, Epileptic is also a moving depiction of one family's intricate history. Through flashbacks, we are introduced to the stories of Pierre-Francois's grandparents and we relive his grandfathers' experiences in both World Wars. We follow Pierre-Francois through his childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, all the while charting his complicated relationship with his brother and Jean-Christophe"s losing battle with epilepsy. Illustrated with beautiful and striking black-and-white images, Epileptic is as astonishing, intimate, and heartbreaking as the best literary memoir.
Every picture tells a story
Original and moving, David B.'s Epileptic is a graphic memoir about the author's childhood near Orléans, France. His older brother, Jean-Christophe, developed epilepsy at age 11, and the impact this had on the artist as a child, a teen and an adult is detailed in alternately sweet, tragic and hilarious fashion. The simple black-and-white drawings call to mind Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis, as do the adolescent's-eye view of life and the author's matter-of-fact tone. It's all beautifully presented in an oversized hardcover book.
Becky Ohlsen writes from Portland, Oregon.